Solon alarmed by China’s ‘most powerful island maker’
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano has expressed alarm over China’s launching of a new dredging vessel dubbed “Asia’s most powerful island maker.”
In a statement, Alejano said the development of China’s maritime technology “highly suggests its renewed determination to assert its interests in the South China Sea.”
He cited the alleged Chinese incursions and harassment of patrols near the Philippine-controlled Pag-asa Island as “indications of its increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.”
He also noted the extensive construction of facilities in the Paracel Islands, another group of maritime features in the South China Sea that is contested by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, although not the Philippines.
Citing reports, Alejano noted that the vessel Tian Kun Hao, measuring 140 meters long and 28 meters wide, could dredge up to 6,000 cubic meters an hour, dig as deep as 35 meters, and reclaim land without transporting landfill materials.
This “would make it easier for China to build artificial islands and reclaim more reefs,” Alejano said.
“Take for instance what China did when it reclaimed its seven reefs in 2013 to 2016. Given the earlier aggressive reclamation activities of China, one cannot help but be alarmed on what this massive dredger could do,” he added.
Alejano said the Duterte administration should “set and clarify the country’s strategic direction for the West Philippine Sea before it is too late.” —Vince F. Nonato
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